An (Almost) Comprehensive Guide to Coffee Jargon

Specialty coffee is sometimes thought to serve only an elitist community of coffee drinkers, inherently excluding those less knowledgeable about coffee from the conversation. Here at Cartwheel, we believe that everyone should be involved in the conversation and have the opportunity to try and buy specialty coffee. That’s why we’re releasing this (almost) comprehensive list of coffee terminology in order to help give you a leg up in your next coffee chat, to prove that specialty coffee really is available for everyone!


A

AA – A coffee grading term that refers to a specific, larger than normal, bean size.

Acidity – A pleasant tartness in coffee, that often carries the high notes of flavour.

Aeropress – A device for brewing coffee, using a plunger and filter paper.

Affogato – Traditionally a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, covered with a shot of espresso. 

Americano – See Long Black.

Aroma – The smell released from freshly ground or brewed coffee.

B

Barista – The Italian term for a skilled, experienced espresso bar operator.

Bean – The seed inside a coffee cherry which is ground to produce the coffee.

Blend – A mixture of two or more single-origin coffees.

Body – The perceived thickness, richness, or viscosity of brewed coffee.

Brew Bar – The station that is worked on by a team of baristas in a café.

C

Cafetière – A device for brewing coffee, using a plunger and a mesh filter.

Caffeine – A chemical stimulant found in coffee which stimulates the central nervous system. 

Cappuccino – A coffee drink made with espresso, texturized milk and milk foam.

Cherry – The fruit that surrounds a coffee bean, typically removed before drying.

Cortado – Similar to an espresso, a single shot of coffee with an equal shot of steamed milk.

Crema – The thin layer of foam that forms at the top of a freshly brewed espresso.

Cupping – A tasting method used to discern the quality and flavours of a coffee.

D

Dalgona – A recently popular form of iced coffee, created by whipping instant coffee with sugar.

Decaf – A coffee that has been produced using particular methods to remove the caffeine.

Dial In – The process of programming an espresso machine to perfect the extraction rate of a coffee.

Dripper – A flat bottomed brewing device with dripping holes to allow a controlled extraction.

E

Espresso – Typically a single shot of black coffee, with no extra water added.

F

Fermentation – The action of enzymes developing flavours within a coffee bean over time.

Flat White – A coffee drink topped with a thin ‘flat’ layer of steamed milk.

French Press – See Cafetière. 

G

Green Coffee – Beans that have not yet been roasted and are essentially ‘raw’.

Grinds – The product of grinding whole bean coffee into a course powder, ready for brewing.

H

Head Roaster – A member of staff who is trained to monitor the length and depth of roast in coffee.

Honey – A process of coffee production that ferments the beans with the cherry still attached.

I

Iced Coffee – Typically an espresso poured over ice and topped with cold milk.

J

Japanese Iced Brew – A pourover coffee that is brewed hot, directly over ice.

K

Kalita – A brand name used synonymously with their Wave Dripper brewing device. See Dripper.

L

Latte – A coffee drink made using steamed milk and a light layer of foam.

Latte Art – The creation of ‘art’ designs and symbols using the contrast of milk and coffee, in a latte.

Long Black – Another term for Americano, this is essentially an espresso diluted with hot water.

M

MASL – Metres Above Sea Level, describes the altitude at which coffee has been grown at its origin.

Micro Lot – Coffee from a single farm, or from a specific part of the coffee farm.

Mocha – A coffee based hot chocolate drink.

N

Natural – A way of processing coffee which doesn’t remove the fruit from the coffee before drying.

Nitro-flushing – How we keep our coffee fresh, by removing oxygen and filling our bags with nitrogen.

O

Oat Milk – A milk substitute made from extracting plant material from oats, using water.

Oxidisation – The chemical change that occurs in coffee beans when exposed to oxygen. See Stale.

P

Parchment – A thin papery layer that is often removed from the coffee bean before roasting.

Portafilter – The device that holds grounds and is inserted into the machine to produce espresso.

Pourover – A coffee drink produced slowly by pouring water directly over grounds, in a dripper.

Pulping – The process of removing fruit from the outside of a coffee bean.

Q

Q-Grader – Someone who is credentialed by the CQI to grade and score coffee to industry standards.

Quaker – A defective coffee bean that doesn’t take to roasting, remaining pale.

R

Raft – The collection of coffee grounds that floats at the top of a brewer or cup.

Roasting – The process of turning green coffee into the final coffee product, using heat.

S

Shot – A single serving of espresso, either served alone or poured into a drink.

Specialty – A pursuit for the highest quality of coffee available, specifically used to refer to coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified Q-Grader. See Q-Grader.

Spent Grinds – The remaining wet grinds after a coffee has been brewed.

Spro – A shortened version of the word espresso. See Espresso

Stale – A coffee bean that has been oxidised and lost its flavour and aroma.

T

Tamper – A device used to flatten and compress coffee grounds in a portafilter. See Portafilter.

Tasting Card – The little information card that we attach to all our coffee bags and pourovers.

Tasting Flight – A pourover and an espresso brewed from the same coffee.

Tasting Notes – The perceived flavours that are present in a coffee.

Texture – The technical term used when steaming milk to the desired viscosity.

W

Washed – A way of processing coffee that removes the fruit and mucilage, then fermented in water.

Whole Bean – The conventional way that we sell our coffee, un-ground, as the beans are kept intact.